Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama on Friday eulogized the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims in last week’s church massacre, calling him a “man of God who lived by faith.”
“We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith,” Obama said. “A man who believed in things not seen. A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance. A man of service who persevered knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would provide a better life for those who followed.”
The President’s remarks both memorialized the victims and touched upon the current controversy surrounding the Confederate flag and what he said was a need for more gun control in the wake of the tragedy. The President’s remarks both memorialized the victims and touched upon the current controversy surrounding the Confederate flag.
“By taking down that flag we express God’s grace,” he said. “But I don’t think God wants us to stop there.” Obama referred to the historic legacy of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston in the struggle for African American liberation. One of the founders of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was Denmark Vesey. Vesey lead the largest African American slave revolt in US history.
Obama finished his remarks by breaking into song, leading the assembled in a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Friday’s funeral service for Pinckney isn’t the first time Obama delivered a high-profile eulogy, and with a year and a half remaining in office, it may not be the last.
But when the President stood in historic downtown Charleston to remember the slain pastor and eight others shot down in their church last week, his speech moved beyond just grief for the victims — Obama stepped directly into a national conversation about race in which he plays a central role.
President Barack Obama ended his at times solemn, at times rousing eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed along with eight other African-American churchgoers last week, by leading the congregation in “Amazing Grace.”
After repeating those words, “Amazing Grace,” several times, the president paused before launching into the song as the mourners joined him.